Rail workers’ safety fears after security contracts halted
The officers, who asked not to be named, said they were now forced to guard the company’s infrastructure including copper cables as these are now vulnerable to thieves.
“We have been told by our manager at the Hammarsdale station that checking tickets and maintaining order on trains is no longer a priority, and that we should guard the infrastructure since the absence of the private companies has rendered the facilities vulnerable to thieves. This is making the KwaZulu-Natal drivers scared and also jeopardises the safety of workers and passengers.
“We find this difficult because many of us are under suspension pending investigation into harassment, nepotism and victimisation at the station,” said one officer.
He said the termination of the private security companies was due to alleged lack of value for money.
On Monday, Prasa acting chief executive Nkosinathi Sishi reportedly said the terminated contracts had allegedly been appointed irregularly by the previous board.
In her report “Derailed”, former public protector Thuli Madonsela flagged numerous irregularities in most of the private security companies contracted by the parastatal. Some of the tenders were allegedly awarded improperly at higher rates.
“Now that all these contracts have been terminated, there are no measures in place to fill the huge gaps left behind. The main concern on the employer’s side is to curb theft, yet commuter security has been a concern for a long time. We shall wait and see how they (Prasa) plan to bring the situation to normal because currently there’s no stability on the security side of things,” said another officer.
Nana Zenani, Prasa national spokesperson said the parastatal respected and valued its employees as the anchor of the organisation in its efforts to deliver quality service to its customers.
“The contracts between Prasa and outsourced security companies were deemed irregular by the public protector, and from June this year Prasa sent communications on its intention to terminate the contracts. The companies were also informed on an ongoing basis of Prasa’s intention to terminate the contracts on October 31.
She said in the interim the company would deploy its own internal security personnel.
“We are also working with the SAPS Rapid Rail police and other security outfits from various organisations within the Department of Transport ambit to continue to secure our passengers, employees and assets,” she said, but declined to comment on the suspension of some Prasa protection officers at Hammarsdale.